IF we don’t believe in our young people, where else can we deposit our faith? That thought bobs up on the morning after school pupils went on ‘strike’ over climate change.
Reactions to this protest varied, with some journalists trundling out the usual rants, notably Toby Young in the Spectator. Young by name if not in spirit, he grumble-wondered why the children hadn’t protested at the weekend, wilfully missing the point, as he often does.
Downing Street put out a tin-earned statement about “wasting lesson time” – great from a government that has spent two-and-half years wasting time not coming to a Brexit deal. And on a globally more significant point, spent decades in on-off government not doing enough about climate instability.
The children and young people who took to the streets did win support from some politicians. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said they were “inspirational” and he’s right about that, if not always about everything else.
Some Tory MPs leant their support, including energy minister Claire Perry, who said she was “incredibly proud” of young people’s passion and concern. Green MP Caroline Lucas said the protest was “the most hopeful thing that’s happened in years”, and she’s right about that.
Buggering up the climate is our gift to future generations, a game of pass-the-parcel where we won’t be around to see what’s unwrapped. And hearing those young people calling for radical steps to tackle the ecological catastrophe was both inspiring and worrying: the first because you need to have faith in the rising generation; and the second because we are stepping closer to a tipping point that won’t be reached until some of the negligent oldies have shuffled off the face of the beleaguered planet.
You could always take faith in Donald Trump instead, and wallow in stupid statements about how you could do with a bit of that there global warming to melt the snow.
But faced with such a dinosaur, and all the other dinosaurs, is it any wonder that the emerging generation has little faith in what used to be known as their “elders and betters”?
Anyway, I liked the sight of all those young people taking to the streets, especially as they went armed with four sensible demands, including that the government should declare a “climate emergency”.
Right now, the government is too busy trying to put off another sort of emergency. But there is always some excuse or other for not taking climate change seriously, even from those of us who try while also ‘sinning’ (driving too much through necessity, having a lovely log-burner, and so on).
If young people around the world can keep up that passion, and insist on their demands, perhaps the planet has a better chance. But those changes need to happen now.